Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University, 23 January 2011, Rajendra Shende last Thursday warned delegates at the 14th European Conference on The Latest Technologies in Renewable Energy, Heating and Cooling Applications, that there is not enough time to wait for new policy as a driver for taking action against climate change. Instead, he urged local initiatives to create their own grassroots-type summit by strengthening collaborative, cross-sector partnerships between business and academia.
Organised by the European Energy Centre EEC, the United Nations Environment Programme UNEP, Terre Policy Centre and the International Institute of Refrigeration IIR the Renewable Energy conference was held at the leading Scottish Universities of Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh Napier University; and it attracted delegates from 11 countries including from the Indian Subcontinent who came to exchange practical and concrete solutions for a fast conversion to a fossil-fuel-free society.
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Several European Governments and the European Commission have shown strong interest and support towards the European Energy Centre’s educational and training activities in renewable energy, including the 14th European Conference, which has won the support of the Italian Government, the Ministry of the Environment, Foreign Affairs, Economic Development, Health and Agriculture.
The Renewable Energy conference, at which Dr Shende attended as a keynote speaker, was launched at an evening seminar at Edinburgh Napier University’s Craighouse Campus and brought together University and world-leading industry experts who are already responding to this challenge through innovation and business in the latest renewable heating and cooling technologies. Napier’s own former lecturer in energy engineering, Kerr MacGregor, whose inventions include a commercially available solar water heater that eliminates problems found with traditional solar, unveiled a new paper-thin, Infra-red radiator. In contrast to normal radiators that provide warmth via convection currents and hot air, his invention directly heats solid surfaces placed in front of it. “It uses an electrically-conductive ink and consumes only a fraction of the electricity than standard electrical heaters,” explained MacGregor.
The most up-to-date advances in equipment including Photovoltaic, Wind and Solar Cooling were presented, all of which have been designed to help sustainable production of energy demands in the expanding world, especially in developing countries where consumption will grow at a double-digit rate.
Yet, some panellists at a session held at following day at the campus of Heriot-Watt University fear that the renewables industry will struggle to gather enough speed if the drastic shortage in trained installers and technicians is not addressed soon. ”
“There are installers out there who are lacking some basic training, they are perfectly capable of installing the equipment but we need to raise their standards and get them certified” explained Graeme Fox, President of the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration European Association, AREA, “The rapid growth in the adoption of heat pumps has brought numerous problems, reports say that poor maintenance, poor installation or badly applied systems are clearly to blame for the poor performance of some equipment”, he also added, “training providers such as the European Energy Centre are what we need”
The same story was told by other industry experts at the conference who presented their latest advancement in a spectrum of impressive energy saving devices throughout the day. “Advancing technology is offering huge potentials in renewable energy – but we have to face the fact that there is a shortage of technicians,” said Paolo Buoni who is director of the European Energy Centre EEC, which provides training to renewable energy companies. “We have a bank of experienced trainers who want to share their knowledge, however, more investment in training is required from the government”.
Shinde too admitted that more financial support is needed for this to happen, “Whilst I think that change needs to come from business and academic partnerships, the whole industry still needs a lot of help in the form of tax rebates, tax holidays and other incentives to make it a reality. This, in turn, would benefit the local economy as well as the planet.”
In a reflective speech, Dr Shende referred to the recent bailout by governments of commercial banks around the globe and asked what would happen if governments did the same for the renewable industry to help it grow. Whilst it’s unlikely that we see an answer to that question in the near future – what was clear from the European gathering in Scotland was that, the spirit of innovation is in no short supply and the determination to achieve a low carbon economy will not be quelled.
The second sitting of the conference will take place in Milan, Italy, on the 10th and 11th of June of this year.
(In the photo) 21st January 2011. 14th European Conference on “The Latest Technologies in Renewable Energy, Applications in Heating and Cooling” at Heriot-Watt University (UK). From the left, Paolo Buoni Director European Energy Centre EEC, Susan Roaf Professor Heriot-Watt University, Alberto Cavallini Professor University of Padua, Rajendra Shende Head OzonAction United Nations Environment Programme, Didier Coulomb Director Institute of Refrigeration, Ennio Macchi Polytechnic of Milan, Marco Masoero Polytechnic of Turin.
Written by Dr Ian Tennant
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